We continue our Inside Beasley Allen series with a look at how medical staff help clients navigate the intersection of their medical and legal needs.
Many Beasley Allen clients are seeking justice after suffering an injury caused by the negligence of another person or company. From personal injuries to injuries or unnecessary death of a loved one caused by a defective product, medical drug, or medical device, medical issues lie at the core of their cases. Thoroughly understanding these issues usually requires the aid and guidance of trained medical professionals. The firm is fortunate to have several medical professionals on staff, including doctor-lawyers with backgrounds in clinical and medical research experience and a legal nurse consultant. These attorneys and staff have a specialized skill set, allowing them to provide special guidance when clients’ medical and legal needs overlap and intersect.
Beasley Allen’s Medical Advisor, Dianne Brown, has assisted firm attorneys and staff for nearly 15 years as a legal nurse consultant. She relies on the knowledge she gained from years of medical-surgical experience and as a perioperative nurse in the role of a Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRFNA), where she worked alongside medical and surgical physicians. This knowledge allows her to help in assisting the firm with the client’s cases.
“It is a privilege to provide medical review assistance to our lawyers and staff so that they can better serve our clients,” Dianne said. “But the process of working up a client’s case is really a team effort.”
Typically, the first contact clients have with the firm is an intake specialist who gathers the initial information about a potential case. If the case involves medical issues, a medical records coordinator will then collect and compile all the necessary medical records. Paralegals and staff assistants will review the medical records as part of the case’s evaluation and discussion with attorneys assigned to a case. After all the initial records and documents are collected and processed, staff and attorneys handling a case will request a medical records review, signaling a more thorough review and analysis.
During the medical records review, Dianne collects, organizes, and reviews the medical records as well as other health care and legal documents relevant to the client’s case. After reviewing the package of medical records and other documents, Dianne provides a summary, analysis, and conclusions about the client’s case to the legal staff and attorneys handling the case. These reports aid attorneys and expert witnesses (including the report author) to effectively communicate the client’s story about their injury, the cause, the impact it has had on their life, and the justice that is due them.
Many clients’ cases against pharmaceutical companies demonstrate the cost of putting profits ahead of consumers’ health and safety. Dianne says she is particularly moved by the firm’s cases that involve children, especially when their young lives are forever changed by a medical drug or device.
“Sometimes thoughts linger in my mind when I have reviewed medical records of cases where children have been involved and their lives have been affected in some way and have been robbed of a normal childhood. I often wonder how the clients are doing at the present time,” Dianne said.
She recalled such a case that involved a 6-year-old boy who eventually required a liver transplant from his mother after a bad reaction to an antibiotic that destroyed his liver function. The family has remained in touch and periodically updates the firm on the young boy’s condition and ongoing lifetime monitoring. He has since required an additional liver transplant and has faced rejection scares that required further hospitalization. He is thriving and adapting to the unique medical conditions forced upon him by the adverse side effect of the antibiotic.
“It is a joy to be able to hear from the client as they share their family’s continued journey and keep us updated on the medical status. It gives us great satisfaction to know that our firm provided them with the help they needed for their young son’s life-threatening medical condition,” Dianne said.
Medical staff are also called upon to talk with clients and collect additional personal and medical information that will help the legal team build the strongest case possible for the client. Staff who are cross-trained in the medical and legal professions are critical in identifying and analyzing other health care issues that may be relevant to the case but were not apparent initially.
Additionally, medical staff also research defective medical devices and the adverse side effects of medical drugs. The information can be used by attorneys seeking to hold reckless manufacturers accountable and to raise awareness among consumers, allowing them to make better-informed choices about their medical care.
The assistance of skilled and highly trained medical staff is just another resource the firm utilizes in tailoring its services to meet the individual needs of its clients.
Other stories in the Inside Beasley Allen series
June 14 – Inside Beasley Allen – Our clients are the heart of what we do
June 21 – Beasley Allen investigators: Uncovering the truth
June 28 – Inside Beasley Allen: Working with referring attorneys to bridge clients’ needs
July 5 – Inside Beasley Allen: Bringing a client’s story to life
July 12 – Inside Beasley Allen: Offering an opportunity for justice